What is Qurbani?

The Qurbani festival celebrates the sacrifice that Prophet Ibrahim (AS) was prepared to make as a sign of his devotion to Allah (SWT). Ibrahim (AS) was prepared to sacrifice his son, Ismael (AS), but was blindfolded so as not to see him suffer as he carried out the slaughter. Upon removing the blindfold, Ibrahim (AS) discovered that his son’s life was spared in an act of mercy by Allah (SWT), with a goat taking Ismael’s (AS) place.

Qurbani (also known as Udhiyah) is an act of sacrifice that Muslims perform during Eid al-Adha and the subsequent three days. (The three days after Eid al-Adha are known as the days of Tashreeq).

Muslims carry out the Qurbani in commemoration of the tremendous sacrifice that Prophet Ibraheem (alaihi salaam) was willing to make. Allaah mentions in the Quran: “And, when he (Ismaeel) was old enough to walk with him, he said: ‘O my son! I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering you, so look what you think!’ He said: ‘O my father! Do that which you are commanded, Insha Allaah, you shall find me of As-Sabirin.” (As-Saffat 37:102)

The dreams of the Prophets are true, so as soon as he had seen this dream, ProphetIbraheem (alaihi salaam) knew it was revelation from Allaah. The story continues: “Then, when they had both submitted themselves, and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead; And We called out to him: ‘O Ibraheem! You have fulfilled the dream!’ Verily! Thus, do We reward the doers of good.” So, Prophet Ibraheem and his son fulfilled the dream, they submitted themselves to Allaah and prepare themselves to carry out his command – once they did this, Allaah informed them that there was no need for the human sacrifice, Prophet Ibraheem had passed the test. Allaah presented him (alayhi salaam) with a ram to sacrifice instead. Ibn al-Qayyim said regarding this: ” The purpose wasn’t for Ibrahim to kill his son, rather it was to sacrifice him in his heart, so all love belonged to Allaah alone.”

On the day of ‘Eid al-Adha that we remember the sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim (alayhisalaam), and we reflect on what made him to be the strongest of the believers, a close friend of Allaah, someone whom Allaah has blessed and a leader of all the nations that follow.

1. Days of Qurbani
The days of Qurbani are the tenth, eleventh and twelfth of Dhul Hijjah. The first day is better than the second, and the second better than the last.

2. Time for Qurbani
In towns and cities where Jumu’ah and ‘Eid salah are performed, Qurbani is not permissible before the ‘Eid salat. If the Qurbani has been offered before the Eid salah, it will have to be repeated. Therefore, the time for Qurbani commences after Eid salah on 1Oth Dhul Hijjah until before sunset of 12th Dhul Hijjah. It is permissible, but not preferable to perform Qurbani at night.

3. The Qurbani animal
It is permissible to offer in sacrifice a goat or she-goat, sheep of all kinds, cow, bull, buffalo or camel.

It is necessary that the goat is one-year-old, whether male or female. A cow, bull or buffalo will have to be two-years-old, and a camel five years. Animals that are younger are not suitable for Qurbani.

A sheep (of any kind) not less than six months old, but strong and healthy enough that it appears to be one-year-old will suffice for Qurbani.

A cow, bull, buffalo or camel will suffice for seven persons provided no one’s share is less than one-seventh and the niyyah (intention) of all partners is to attain reward and not merely to obtain meat.

The Qurbani of only one person can be performed from a goat, sheep or ram.

If an animal seller says that the animal has reached the required age, and outwardly there is no sign to disprove it, then it is permissible to rely on his statement. Animals that are castrated can be used for Qurbani. In fact, this type of animal is preferable.

4. The following cannot be used for Qurbani
– Animals that are blind, one-eyed or have lost one-third or more of their eyesight.
– Animals that have lost a third of their ear or the tail. Similarly, the animal which has no ear from its very birth is not permissible.
– An animal whose horn has been broken off from the root.
– An animal which has one leg lame to the extent that it walks on three legs only and is unable to use the fourth leg.
– An animal is so lean and thin that its bones have no marrow.
– An animal is so weak that it cannot walk to the place of slaughtering on its own.
– Animal completely toothless or one that has lost most of its teeth.

It is virtuous to purchase the animal for Qurbani a few days prior to slaughtering and care must be taken in feeding and nursing it.

5. Method of sacrifice
It is more virtuous to slaughter the animal with one’s own hands. If one does not know how to slaughter, it is preferred that he remain present while someone else is sacrificing the animal. It is not necessary to make the niyyah (intention) of Qurbani with the tongue, however, it is necessary to say Bismillahi Allahu Akbar when slaughtering.

Use a sharp knife and slaughter the animal quickly so that it does not suffer.
Do not sharpen the knife in front of the animal.
After slaughtering, do not skin the animal before it becomes completely cold.
Do not slaughter one animal in the presence of another.

It is mustahabb (desirable) for one who intends to perform Qurbani to refrain from cutting hair or clipping nails from 1st Dhul Hijjah to 10th Dhul Hijjah, (i.e. until after Qurbani).

6. The Qurbani meat and skin
– It is permissible to eat the Qurbani meat.
– It can also be distributed to relatives and friends whether wealthy or poor, Muslims or non-Muslims.
– It is better to divide it into three parts. One for the family, one for relatives and friends and one for the poor and needy.
– The skin of the Qurbani animal can be kept for personal use, e.g. using it as a prayer-mat, water bag, etc.
– If the skin of the Qurbani animal is sold, then it is wajib to give that amount in sadaqah to the poor (i.e. those who are eligible for Zakah).
– It is not permissible to give meat, fat, etc. of the sacrificed animal to the butcher as his wages.
– The meat of the animal slaughtered by partners should be shared by weight and not by estimation.
– The rope, cover, etc. of the animal should be given away as sadaqah.

7. Qurbani on behalf of deceased
If Allah has favoured one with wealth, then he should also perform Qurbani on behalf of his deceased relatives, friends and teachers who have conveyed Islamic knowledge.

Aboo Talhah (RA) has related that the Prophet (SAW) sacrificed one ram and while sacrificing the other he said: “This is on behalf of every one of my ummah who believed in me and testified (to my prophethood).” (Tabrani)